T.H. Stone is considered settler number one for modern Port St. Joe.
R.A. Costin would be settler number two.
And this weekend the Costin family will celebrate the 100th anniversary of business in downtown Port St. Joe with a celebration at Ace Hardware on Williams Avenue.
The store will mark the anniversary on Saturday, July 19.
The landmark day is a celebration of the first brick building built in Port St. Joe in 1914 by R.A. Costin, who used the lower floor as his general store while his growing family – he would have eight children, three who died tragically young – lived in the upper floor.
At the time, Stone had established the settlement of modern Port Saint Joseph within a mile or two of the former town which had been wiped out by a yellow fever epidemic more than 100 years prior.
The brick store Costin opened was located at the site of what is now the Half Hitch Tackle Store on U.S. Highway 98 in Port St. Joe.
Some of the bricks from the building – and reports from the day say they numbered more than 150,000 – are part of the shopping center built by George Tapper adjacent to the store.
The store, after the Costin family moved theirs to Reid Avenue, would later become the site of the post office and later Buzzett Drugs.
And, according to published reports, R.A. Costin and his son, Cecil, who at the age of 13 stood on a box behind the counter while helping customers, sold just about everything.
The store offered silk stockings and coffins. You could buy food for the family or food for the animals, horse collars and clothing.
The store moved to Reid Avenue in the 1920s, roughly where the Radio Shack and adjacent stores in the 200 block are located, and would move again directly across the street in the late 1930s after St. Joe Paper Company announced it would build a mill in town.
The family operated on Reid Avenue – using the shop buildings now located along one side of Williams Avenue as warehouse space – until the 1960s.
Ultimately, the family established the Hardware Store, located on Williams, which is now operated by Mark Costin, the sixth generation of Costin to operate a store in Port St. Joe.
“We are one of the oldest Ace distributors in the area,” said Sylvia Costin, the widow of one of R.A. Costin’s grandsons. “It used to be when the old department store was operating that we would go between the store and through the warehouses to Williams."
The family arrived in Port St. Joe from Greensboro in 1909, riding together in a train caboose from Greensboro, where R.A. had operated a general goods store.
R.A. opened the first store in town that same year, before Port St. Joe was even incorporated and at a time when lumber and naval supplies were being shipped through a bustling port.
The family lived next door.
In 1914 he replaced that old wooden store with the first brick building, opening it July 19 of that year.
Cecil purchased the store in 1923 and R.A. and his wife, the former Sarah Goodwin Guerry from South Carolina, to Wewahitchka only to return later to the town he had helped establish.
As part of the 100th anniversary of a Costin family store serving Port St. Joe, Ace Hardware will host a “birthday party” with refreshments from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m. ET on Saturday as part of a daylong celebration that will include a “bag” store sale from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., with 20 percent off on merchandise that can be placed in one bag and other activities.